New killer Bs for you to check out

SEPTEMBER 22 — Just a few hours before I wrote this, I read with much excitement about the announcement, launch and manifesto of a new Malaysian film production company calling itself Kuman Pictures, run by none other than one of my favourite film-related Malaysians ever (either as a director with films like the groundbreaking Lips To Lips and documentaries like Lelaki Komunis Terakhir and The Big Durian, or his writings about film), Amir Muhammad.

Their focus: Producing horror flicks and thrillers, with small budgets averaging about RM500,000. Check out their manifesto... it’s a great read!

In short, like their namesake inspiration Roger Corman (Kuman, geddit?), they’ll most likely be dabbling in the energy and spirit of B grade horror flicks and thrillers, a particular corner of the film-making world that I’ve always found exciting and inspiring, especially when it comes to discovering new talents.

They also announced three upcoming films, so that’s three local genre films to look forward to in 2019 already.

I’ll try and find the time to catch two new regional horror films opening in local cinemas this week — Malaysia’s Langsuir and Indonesia’s Sebelum Iblis Menjemput, from director Timo Tjahjanto (of Rumah Dara, Killers and Headshot fame), one of my favourite genre directors right now — and maybe do a double review next week to see how the movies fare against each other.

But for now, let’s see what my endless trawl through the murky waters of the international genre and B movie world has managed to unearth for us this week, shall we?

Heavy Trip

A huge favourite at this year’s Fantasia Fest, this offbeat heavy metal comedy from Finland is definitely not a horror movie, but it fits with the genre film brigade courtesy of its subject matter — metal music, and the fact that it plays a lot like cult favourites Wayne’s World and Airheads.

The story’s about a bunch of friends who’ve been jamming in a band for 12 years without playing a single gig or even writing a single original song, until they finally they decided to do so after a chance encounter with the promoter of a huge metal festival in Norway.

A really sweet tribute to how much of a sweetheart metalheads can be, even when your band is called Impaled Rektum, this is like a crazy, death metal version of The Blues Brothers, with all the silliness that makes Wayne’s World, Airheads and Detroit Rock City so beloved by their respective cults to this very day.

This is an unexpected crowd pleaser that will totally charm your socks off.

Ruin Me

If you think Wes Craven’s Scream, with its brilliant reinvention of the slasher movie with self-referential, post-modern tactics was a breath of fresh air when it first came out, then maybe you’ll find a lot to like here with this small, and so far quite unheralded piece of new (and probably even much needed) slasher movie “reinvention.”

The movie takes place during Slasher Sleepout: The Ultimate Horror Movie Experience, an experience package that combines camping, haunted house and even the escape room craze into one extreme 36-hour event.

Six people are hooded, dropped in the middle of the woods, and are then given clues to solve in order to survive the simulated horror movie that they’re experiencing, or is it all for real?

Like Scream, the film also plays with audience expectations when it comes to the rules and clichés of horror movies, subverting a lot of our expectations, therefore making the film a pretty damn refreshing experience, even when it comes to the ending!

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Anyone who grew up during the 80s and 90s will surely remember, or at least have heard of the Puppet Master franchise, from legendary horror producer Charles Band’s Full Moon Pictures.

This new reboot, from the brilliantly ultra-violent mind of writer S. Craig Zahler (he of Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 fame) does not require you to see even one of the 12 previous Puppet Master films.

Yes, 12, and that’s not a typo! All you need to know is that this film has puppets, a master and loads of wonderful gore.

And because there’s the word “reich” in the title, you’ll also know that a few little Nazi and Holocaust references will be thrown in there as well, making the film just a little bit more than a riotous gorefest, helped immensely by what looks like a much bigger budget than a lot of its predecessors, resulting in some pretty impressive practical splatter effects.

There are laughs galore too. But of course, the movie lives or dies on your ability to accept whether evil (and murderous) puppets are valid horror movie villains. I did, and thoroughly enjoyed this one.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.